Sunday 22 December 2013

"Chope" food for the needy with new voucher scheme

NTUC Foodfare to sell tokens at its stalls
By Grace Chua, The Straits Times, 20 Dec 2013

KIND-HEARTED Singaporeans who want to buy food and reserve - or "chope" - it for the needy will find it easier to do so from the end of this month.

NTUC Foodfare's Rice Garden stalls, which sell subsidised meals to people on public assistance at eight hawker centres, will sell meal vouchers to members of the public and corporate donors from Dec 30.

The $1.99 tokens, which each cover the cost of a subsidised meal, will be sold at the stalls and in bulk from Foodfare's corporate office.

Individuals can give out the vouchers themselves, or contact a charity or social welfare group near the stall to hand them to local beneficiaries.

Rice Garden's senior operations manager, Mr Ronz Chan, 48, said the scheme has been set up because stalls have had to turn down those who wanted to reserve food for the needy by paying for it in advance.

"Quite a few people would drop money with the cashier, ask them to serve food to the needy and just walk off - my staff didn't know what to do," he said, adding that there can be difficulty accounting for cash and distributing free meals fairly.

Staff currently ask donors to drop cash into the stalls' charity boxes, with proceeds going to the Man Fut Tong nursing home.

Rice Garden also found that religious groups and social welfare organisations, like Meals on Wheels, had been buying meal packets in bulk for beneficiaries.

"We want people to actively participate," Mr Chan said, adding that for those too shy to approach charities or potential recipients, "there's always the charity box".

The first Rice Garden stall was opened in Aljunied in 2009.

The scheme was expanded last year and the NTUC Foodfare cooperative aims to open more than 100 Rice Garden stalls in hawker centres here by 2015.

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